How to Get Your Dog to Listen

From Your Home to the Real World

Do you want to know how to get your dog to listen anywhere you go? Are you having a hard time getting your dog’s attention when your out and about? Is it really a challenge getting him to listen to you anywhere you are? Here, let us teach you how to get your dog to listen to you wherever you go. Our tips will help you get your dog to be attentive.

You don’t need to be professional trainers to tame your dog. One very effective way of doing so is to have the kids help you with the exercise. We too, have the kids help us get our dog to listen anytime, anywhere we are. They are fantastic distractions and as all kids are, can be unpredictable just as the real world can be.

It’s best practice to begin training somewhere relatively low distractions, such as inside the home. You shouldn’t expect your dog to listen to you outside with all the noise and bustling around if they don’t yet listen to you with limited distractions/challenges. The key to effective practice is building up distractions in a controlled manner. It is necessary too, that you know what will get your dog’s attention by how distracted they are by certain things. What I mean is some dogs are super food motivated, others prefer toys or simple verbal affirmation. Likewise, some dogs will be easily startled by loud sounds, while others have nerves of steal. The more you work with your dog, the better you will get to know them.

Start in the living room with nothing going on. Then progress to adding a distraction, such as a small child that will take your instruction and continue to build from there until you have reached the point where you can have company over and your dog is mentally prepared to listen to you and be obedience even with the excitement of new people in the home.

Before You Do the Exercise…

One important thing you should remember is that, typically, if your dog doesn’t listen in the living room, you can expect his behavior will be worse when you take him out and about. So, make sure he can handle larger distraction in the living room before taking him out.

Best Spots to Start When Training Your Dog to Listen to You Anywhere 

1. Living Room

Dog training in living roomThe living room is a great starting point for learning new things. More often than not, this will be one of your lowest distraction environments for you to work your dog. Other great places to start would be other rooms inside the house where your dog is familiar with and spends a lot of their time.

Adding Distractions (When & How)

Whatever room you choose to start, begin by introducing one distraction at a time. And you can make that particular thing more and more distracting. Start with something your dog gets excited about, but doesn’t loose their mind over.

Let’s use a CHILD for example: 

NOTE: Only move to adding distractions when your dog is completing a command consistently and reliably.

  1. Simply have a child present while you practice your obedience training commands with your dog. Have them sit or stand calmly with little movement.
  2. Then have them read a book and flip pages or play with a noisy toy.
  3. Now have them walk in and out of the room… then run in and out of the room. (good practice when doing this with kiddos is to give them a specific object to run to so you can predict their path of travel and avoid any collisions)
  4. Finally have the kids throw your dogs favorite toy or carry food in their hands as they run around your dog.

OR a TENNIS BALL for example:

  1. Just have the ball in the room.
  2. Slowly roll the ball at a distance from your dog.
  3. Roll the ball faster… and faster.
  4. THROW THE BALL! You can even make boisterous sounds while you throw it.

You can use this method for almost anything.

Again, only progress once your dog is having consistant success with the current level of distraction you are working with.

2. Backyard 

Dog training in backyard

Once your dog has mastered the living room move to the backyard.

Don’t expect your dog to move to a new environment and be ready to work in that new setting with the same distractions from the previous setting.

So start again from square one. By simply moving outside we have increased out distractions dramatically.

Put the toys and food away, leave the kiddos inside. Run through your obedience commands without adding any challenges for your dog. You are already competing for their attention with all the sights, smells and sounds of the outdoors. And remember even though you aren’t distracted by something, your dog may be very distracted by that same thing. Your dog will catch a scent that has their mind racing when you don’t smell a thing.

When your dog is telling you they are ready to advance, repeat the “Adding Distractions” steps.

Things to consider when moving training outside:
  1. Time of day – If Tom next door is always doing yard work at 5pm, try starting before Tom gets started the first couple days.
  2. Weather
    1. If it just finished raining earlier in the day, the smells outside will be in overdrive. You may not need to add any distractions that day.
    2. If it’s hot outside, your dog may tire quicker than usual. If he does, and he begins to get sloppy, it’s probably not disobedience. End on a high note and call it a day.

3. Front Yard

Dog training in front yard with a kid

For most people the front yard will be the more of the two active yards at your house. If this is the case, once you’ve mastered the exercise at the backyard, take the dog to the front yard. If activity levels at your house are reversed, then start in the front yard and then move to the back.

Same steps will apply here as in the previous location.

At this point, if you have been using the same distractions, your dog may be getting bored with them. Start to integrate new things. You can even get your neighbors involved. Have them walk up to you (only as close as your dog can handle) closer and closer until you can shake their hand while your dog holds a sit or down command. Have your significant other get into the car and drive away while you are working obedience commands. Go ahead, get creative, have fun with it.

4. Pet or Dog-Friendly Store

Dog training in front of a store

Now for the real fun. Once your dog has mastered a few different locations and is doing all their obedience commands with big distractions ask yourself if you and your dog are ready for an outing.

Take your dog to any pet friendly store. Someplace like Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, Tractor Supply or the pet store. For you first trip go during slower hours (not during peak hours for the store) when there aren’t a lot of people. If your dog seems overwhelmed at first, start at the back of the store or someplace with low traffic.

If your dog nails it that first time you take him here, go to a little bit busier of a time. But if he is still struggling, that’s okay! Spend a couple more of visits here before advancing. You don’t have to rush through this.

5. The Park

Dog training in a park with group of people

Again, outside there are lots of things that we can’t control in the environment like sight, smells and sounds. And dogs can literally smell things from miles away. At the park they have all that as well as more people and more wildlife to keep their focus divided.

Keep this in mind when choosing when to take your dog to the park. If it’s a windy day, not the best day to start at the park. If there is an event going on, pick another day to start. You are better off taking baby steps until you reach your goal than making great strides and then taking enormous steps backwards because you pushed too hard too fast. Or worse your dog has a traumatic experience that is now something that needs worked through in and of itself. Start away from the main park. Then, start at the least trafficked area of the park, like maybe the corner of the parking lot. Gradually move to the busier areas.

In Conclusion…

Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive

For things you can anticipate you will encounter when your out and about, such as the smoochy sounds people love to make when they notice you have your dog. Practice through those things at home so when your dog hears them when your out in public, he will have already been accustomed to training with those sounds. This will make the real life experience much less challenging for you dog.

Listen to What Your Dog is Telling You

Listen to what you dog is telling you and follow their cue. If they are struggling too much or unable to do what your asking, make it an exercise to lessen your distraction. If they seem bored or uninterested in what your doing, they could work with more distraction. In fact they may do better with more distraction.

Key concept to keep in mind: each of your training sessions should be Challenging, But Doable.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Start slow, then, build your way out. Yes, master the exercise first before you move on to the next. Mastery may take a day or two… it may take a week or two. Take your time, listen to your dog.

Keep Training Sessions Short and Sweet

Keep training sessions short and fun. A series of successful 2 minute training sessions is far more impactful for your dog than one long session. Additionally, if one long session means 28 minutes of great obedience and then 2 minutes of epic failure or you getting frustrated with your dog. Then the experience is no longer a positive one and you may find  yourself back-peddling tomorrow.


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